Ed Meek’s name could be removed from the School of Journalism and New Media quicker than university officials originally expected.
Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said in a statement on Tuesday that the university plans to expedite the process for removing the donor’s name in response to Meek’s request over the weekend that his name be removed. Meek could not be reached for comment on Tuesday afternoon.
Vitter said the Graduate Council and Undergraduate Council would vote on the measure by email Tuesday night. Both councils are comprised of faculty members and one student voting member. Vitter also said Meek’s donation to the university may not be returned to him because of legal reasons, but the next steps will be discussed with Meek’s family.
“There have been comments from members of the public and the media recommending that the university return the naming gift,” Vitter said. “State and federal law and the terms of the original agreement governing the management of these funds prohibit the university from making such a move unilaterally.”
Graduate Council Chair Christy Wyandt said she is not a voting member of the council and that only faculty council members and the student representative can vote on this item, at this level.
“The Graduate Council is currently considering the request from the faculty of the School of Journalism and New Media to rename the school, removing the Meek name,” Wyandt said. “I anticipate that the vote will be completed within the next day or so.”
Vice President of the Student Graduate Council Alexandros Sivvopoulos serves as the student voting member on the Graduate Council and said he voted “yes” on the proposal to rename the Meek School.
Sivvopoulos said he supports a previous statement by the Graduate Student Council saying Meek acted in a manner inconsistent with the University Creed. He said he respects Meek’s personal request to have his name removed as well as the right of the journalism school faculty to self-determination of the school’s name.
Chair of the Undergraduate Council Charlotte Pegues could not be reached for comment regarding the vote.
If the Graduate Council and the Undergraduate Council both approve the request, the Council of Academic Administrators will then discuss and vote on the measure.
Chair of the Faculty Senate Brice Noonan is a voting member of that committee. He said that he intends to vote in favor of removing Meek’s name from the building and supports the School of Journalism and New Media faculty members’ decision.
“I feel that the folks that are working in the (School of Journalism and New Media) that bears the name that they feel that does not adequately represent their academic unit,” Noonan said. “If they wish to disassociate (with Meek), then I support them.”
Jim Zook, associate vice chancellor for strategic communication and marketing, declined to answer questions about the voting process.